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The Zen of Walter

Section: The Tao of the Dude  | Date: September 4th, 2012

Walter Sobchak - Defender of the FaithBy Rev. Aaron Weintraub

Have you ever wished you could be a little less Walter, but the human paraquats, Larry Sellerses, and nihilists of the world seem to conspire to keep your inner dude down? I have realized that my thinking about Walter and The Dude has been waaaay too uptight. It’s time to stop trying to get our inner Walter to stop making connections to ‘Nam and embrace him as the Dude embraced him, even as he was covered in the ashes of Donnie.

I have been thinking a lot about the dynamic between the dude and Walter, and by extension, Walter’s place in the Dudeist hagiography. After the first bazillion viewings of our sacred source, it appears that Walter is a cautionary tale, the straight man against which the Dude’s abiding is revealed. It leaves a dude wondering, why does The Dude keep Walter so close instead of spending more time with like minded compeers like Maude’s cab driver? Walter’s rage seems unfocused and erratic. He seems to be ranting one moment and then calmly correcting The Dude’s ethnic nomenclature the next. Now, I am convinced that Walter is something much more than that.

This new clarity really snapped into focus for me when I started listening to the Big Lebowski soundtrack as I took my morning walks. Wwalter bookithout the distraction of the Coen brothers’ amazing camera work, I was able to more fully appreciate the complexity of the semantic dance between Walter and The Dude. Indeed there could be no dude without Walter. If you soak up their complicated and shifting interactions, the dynamic of the yin and yang symbol is brilliantly on display. Each time the dude strays into uptight thinking, Walter soothes him and encourages him to just take it easy or points out that it’s the stress talking. The same goes for when Walter escalates. They are something more than buddies, they are symbiotic.

So what am I blathering about? For those of us who have chosen the meandering path of Dudeism, it remains a struggle to keep our minds limber in the wake of our little Lebowski spiritual acalmerchievements (and proud we are of all of them). The lure of being a spiritual achiever is just as insidious to the ol’ Duder’s head as any material, academic, or financial goals. If you measure progress as an increasing ratio of Dude moments vs. Walter moments, as I have been tempted to do, you miss out on the Zen of Walter.

We are all familiar with the Tao of the Dude, but the Zen of Walter is less apparent. The Zen of Walter is about being in touch with your instincts. It is about being tender with your ex wife’s dog. It is about nurturing a 3,000 year old tradition. Being in touch equally with the Zen of Walter and the Tao of the Dude means being aware of when to draw lines in the sand, and when to coo gently in your own ear, "duuuude, duuuuuude."

budbillHere is a poem by David Budbill which I think perfectly articulates the dance between the Zen of Walter and the Tao of the Dude which is at play in all of us.


"Back to the Undifferentiated Tao,
you son of a bitch!"
And he smashes the triangular fly
into the hairs of his dirty brown arm.

–From Moment to Moment by David Budbill

In the old testament, the word Satan is translated literally as “the adversary.” Instead of being enemies with God, the adversary serves as a catalyst for positive walter nirvanagrowth. Calm seas don’t make good captains, as they say, and without stress one could not overcome uptight thinking and just take it easy.

In the words of the Dude De Ching, "Reactionaries and Pacifists are abstracted from Our Basic Freedoms; Ups and downs are abstracted from the cycle." So let’s raise an oat soda to our inner Walter and take it easy on ourselves when we are more Walter than the dude. Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes well, the bar, well, he eats you. It’s a dance, a cycle. Nothing changes.

Aaron Weintraub is the director of Kids Cooperate, facilitating social skills groups for children on the Autism Spectrum. He blogs at http://kidscooperate.com/blog

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16 Responses to “The Zen of Walter”

  1. Phelps on September 4th, 2012 3:24 pm

    There’s also Walter as the unenlightened Buddha. He believes that if he can control the world and if everyone gives a shit about the fucking rules, then we can get rid of suffering. The Dude, as the enlightened Buddha, knows that suffering is the human condition, and we can only improve the world by not inflicting suffering on others.

    That’s why Walter is still so broken by Vietnam. America followed the rules, while the VC had their black pajama toes over the line the whole time. When Walter comes to terms with that simply being how the world is, then he will be a long way towards enlightenment.

  2. newton on September 6th, 2012 10:53 pm

    America followed the rules in Viet Nam? Are you on crack? Gulf of Tonkin, Napalm, Agent Orange, Potemkin Village, MyLai, killing 3 million people who had done absolutely nothing to the U.S., then letting the murder continue with Nixon bombing the fuck out of all the neighboring countries. Plus, leaving hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs over there – which are still killing civilians walking and working in the countryside…

  3. Phelps on September 7th, 2012 7:57 am

    Apparently, you’re on the Oliver Stone wavelength, not reality. Potemkin Village isn’t a real place, it’s a Chinese myth and has nothing to do with Vietnam, man.

    Ma Lai was a crime that was stopped by other American troops when it was happening and was prosecuted in the military courts.

    Is war hell? Sure, but we were following the rules of land warfare, and the VC didn’t. They were terrorists. Even their food was stolen at gunpoint from poor villagers.

    You know, has it ever occurred to you, that, uh, instead of running around, blaming America, given the nature of all this new shit, you know, this could be a lot more, uh, complex, I mean it’s not just, this might not be just a simple, you know?

  4. newton on September 7th, 2012 10:55 pm

    Yeah, and Oliver Stone was actually over there seeing all the shit happening. So were other people with a sense of conscience who were so fed up with the bullshit that they were killing their own COs to avoid killing innocent women, children, and old people (like what has happened in the Middle East for the past 30 years. you don’t belong on the Dudeship Enterprise. You belong with the rumsfeldian/bushian/cheyeyians…

    p.s. Potemkin Village was a staged event by the amerikan propaganda/pentagon machine. i know it wasn’t a real place, you douchebag, tea party, ayn randian dimwit.

  5. newton on September 7th, 2012 11:06 pm

    if being a terrorist means killing and torturing the innocent, then the people who own and run amerika have been doing this for centuries – starting with the Native Americans, then going on the the slaves, then the people who sought to collectively bargain, then the Central and South Americans, then the people of the Islands, extending to the people in the Middle East who happen to be living on “our oil”, and including anyone who would get in the way of the corporatist/capitalist/insatiable/all consuming empire machine.

  6. Phelps on September 8th, 2012 6:46 am

    You’re being very undude.

  7. The Dudespaper on September 8th, 2012 7:20 am

    yeah, newton. can you please keep your voice down? this is a family restaurant. you’re both entitled to your opinion. let’s be gentledudes.

  8. Greydude on September 8th, 2012 10:42 pm

    Dudes Potemkyn villages were staged villages that the Soviets used to impress Americans like Paul Robeson and others into believing the fallacy of communisms utopian promise.The rest is history dudes.

  9. newton on September 9th, 2012 8:34 am

    Sorry. i get a bit perturbed when uber patriots refuse to look critically at the crimes our country’s corporate govt. commits. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

    In modern usage, a Potemkin village is any construct, physical or figurative, intended to deceive external people into thinking that something is better than it actually is. In such context, the word Potemkin has become a synonym of “fake” or “false” – wikipedia. (This has even been used in America. It’s the presentation of a facade; much like our govt.)

  10. Phelps on September 9th, 2012 12:30 pm

    Maybe I just know too many gooks — I mean, Vietnamese Americans — who were victimized by the VC, and too many American vets who I know are good people and wouldn’t commit warcrimes to buy into the anti-American propaganda. Really, I know too many Americans to believe that a government run by Americans could be as bad as portrayed.

    You talked about how I “don’t belong on the Dudeship Enterprise.” The thing is, all the things you accuse me of, Walter would be equally guilty of. I don’t think that there is any denial that Walter is still the Dude’s best friend.

    Is the point of this what-have-you to become more like the Dude or not? Because if it is, I don’t think that labeling everyone who has it their way instead having it your way as “douchebag, tea party, ayn randian dimwits” is the way to achieve Dudenlightenment.

    I’m calmer than you are, dude.

  11. Greydude on September 10th, 2012 1:26 pm

    Right on Phelps. There’s a little bit of Walter and The Dude in everyone. Being Patriotic is caring about your fellow Dudes,Dudettes and Dude children it’s not about politicians.

  12. Doctor Joe on September 20th, 2012 4:00 am

    I’m wondering if newton ever served in the military or just ranting and making harsh statements based on “what I’ve heard”. The media twists accounts to their own benefits. When I was in the sandbox I read articles about firefights that recently occurred, some of which I was in. The media story vastly differed from the truth. I know several reporters who wrote from the rear. The sandbox was too dangerous for them. So before we all start yelling and calling each other names, we need to keep in mind that history was, and is, written from the writiers perspective, however true or false that may be.
    Stay calm. Carry On.

  13. Jason on September 26th, 2012 1:17 pm

    This here fella gone done taken the words right outta my mouth …

  14. ArchiesBoy on September 30th, 2012 6:51 pm

    Seven large wads as requested
    Meets the giness of Walter
    Respectful toward all
    Observing the fucking Shabbos

  15. dudeist on November 6th, 2012 7:02 am

    Dude, gooks is not the preferred nomenclature.

  16. Phelps on November 6th, 2012 7:06 am

    I corrected it to Vietnamese American.

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